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Study shows that in tough economic times, law enforcement turns to traffic tickets

From the cab driver in New York City to the commuter in Omaha to the delivery driver in Seattle, it's the one sight that prompts universal dread among motorists: flashing red lights in their rearview mirror.

The unfortunate reality is that this sight is becoming more common as economic troubles have forced many states and cities to slash their budgets, leaving local law enforcement agencies looking for other sources of revenue.

In other words, law enforcement officials across the country have been -- and will likely continue to -- issue traffic violations and speeding tickets in larger numbers to generate much needed income.

While you may be tempted to dismiss this as nothing more than an urban myth, consider a 2009 study by the Journal of Law & Economics.

Here, researchers studied traffic ticket patterns in 96 North Carolina counties from 1990 to 2003 and discovered that there was a sizeable increase in the number of traffic tickets issued following a year in which revenue declined.

Specifically, researchers found that traffic tickets increased by 6.4 percent for every 10 percent in negative revenue growth.

This increased vigilance by law enforcement means that sometime over the next few years, you may find yourself paying a costly traffic violation despite your best efforts to obey the rules of the road.

However, it's not just the fine that you'll be paying. While many insurance companies will forgive a single traffic ticket, it may be a different story for multiple infractions.

"Multiple violations raise an automatic red flag for insurance companies, and with each new infraction can come hundreds or even thousands in premium increases," said the vice president of one auto insurance company.

In the meantime, experts advise motorists to drive slowly and carefully, and to shop around for insurance coverage in the event they do get a ticket(s), as there may be better deals available.

Stay tuned for more from our New York vehicle traffic law blog ...

If you have been issued a traffic violation, fight to keep your driving privileges and your insurance premiums as low as possible. Consider contacting an attorney who understands New York's confusing legal system, and who can help you evaluate your options and make the right decisions.

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.


WOWK-TV, "Drivers more likely to get tickets during economic slowdowns," Jan. 7, 2013

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